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Google’s ‘muskie’ Pixel Device is Apparently the HTC U11 Plus

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HTC formally took the wraps off its newest smartphone, the U11 Plus, at an event earlier today. The device sports flagship-level specifications and is reminiscent of other smartphones on the market because of that. One device specifically similar to the U11 Plus is the Pixel 2 XL which has practically the same internals. As it turns out, these two devices could have more in common than some might think.

If you recall, back when the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL weren’t more than simple codenames, it was discovered Google had three devices in the works, respectively called “walleye”, “taimen”, and “muskie”. The first two turned into the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL we have today, but the third never really resulted in anything. The codename popped up recently in some AOSP Google code, but that was it. Now, a new report out of The Verge claims that “muskie” device is really the HTC U11 Plus, just with HTC’s design language and logo on top.

The Verge has confirmed with a source familiar with HTC and Google’s tumultuous recent history that the U11 Plus, the device freshly announced this morning, is indeed the muskie handset that Google rejected in favor of the LG alternative. Not in its original Google-approved form, of course, but the core design and engineering that we see presented under the HTC brand today was essentially done to build the next Google Pixel XL.

It’s important to note that Google was never intending to build an all-glass Pixel 2 XL with a 3,930mAh battery. But rather, the inside structure and engineering of the U11 Plus was originally the base of the second Pixel XL before LG swooped in and took over the project. What the result of an HTC-Google collab on the Pixel 2 XL would be will forever remain unknown, but you should be able to get a good idea of what it could’ve been with the U11 Plus.

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